Sunday, October 05, 2014


Naum Panovski: US based film maker and a "Charter member of Macedonia's City of Skopje Elite." source: Fokus

by Sasha Uzunov
SKOPJE STRIKES BACK: What did we say about City of Skopje arrogance? See my previous article link
I quote a "Charter member of the City of Skopje Elite"- Naum Panovski on the diaspora:
"Роден скопјанец, дипломира на Факултетот за драмски уметности во Белград, а повеќе од две децении живее во САД. Тоа е кусото претставување на режисерот Наум Пановски. Предава на неколку универзитети во Вашингтон и во Њујорк, а главна преокупација му се демократијата и индивидуалните слободи.
Тоа што отскокнува од мнозинството во дијаспората, преокупирана само со национални теми, го објаснува со социолошката матрица на луѓето. „Тие луѓе можеби студирале таму, но ментално живееле во своите прилепски или ресенски села, па така тие сѐ уште говорат на дијалект, живеат во своите енклави“, вели режисерот за „Фокус“"
It's disappointing to see a well respected reporter Jadranka Kostova not quote anyone in response to Panovski's arrogant assertions that America's Macedonian diaspora is narrow-minded, xenophobic and primitive. The full story can be read in Fokus here - link 
Aaah, let's see... who kept quiet before 1991 about Amnesty International complaining about Yugoslavia's political prisoners? Ahh, let's see who supported a system, Yugoslavism, which had become morally bankrupt by using informers such as pedophile priests such as Bishop Vasilije Kacavenda?
Members of Macedonia's City of Skopje elite or those who adopted a Yugoslavist Belgrade cafe intellectual pose: they criticse others for having a pack mentality, yet they all think, act and talk the same like a cookie-cutter. Where is the "diversity?"
It's ironic that this guy lives in the West... and can't stand people using their dialects but it's ok for this guy to use "official" standard Macedonian, hijacked by the elite and filled with City of Skopje terms.
Finally, we are now seeing these people really bare their teeth and remove the veneer of "culture" and reveal their true characters....
Notice how his views are intolerant....an interesting irony... He complains about American-Macedonians for having "anglicised" first names such as John and in doing so is playing the Macedonian nationalist card but is critical of others. It's called hypocrisy. Should atheists complain that his first name Naum is from the Hebrew biblical name of Nahum?
Notice the Scam if you don't view the world the way he does:
1. If you criticise the elite, you first get hit by humour and if that fails with insults, ie villagers (selani).
2. If that doesn't work, you get criticised for being a "Macedonian nationalist."
3. If that doesn't work, you get criticised for not being a "Macedonian patriot."
Can you not see how the system is designed for the elite to always win and the diaspora to lose?
We have witnessed the flipside of when Macedonians, in trying to be "cool" adopt an internationalist or in the old days, Yugoslavist position. They in effect embrace a de-facto Serb nationalist position. Take Australian soccer star Bobby Despotovski, for instance.

Bobby Despotovski's infamous three finger salute in 2001.
We track down the Australian Immigration records (National Archives of Australia):
SLOBODAN "BOBBY" DESPOTOVSKI - Macedonian father, Cvetko, and mother, Valentina, nee Saharov (her parents Martin & Margareta Saharov from Sevastopol, Crimea, Ukraine/Russia). Cvetko, born in Celopek, Macedonia and Valentina Saharov born in Kacarevo, Pancevo, Vojvodina province, Serbia, then Yugoslavia. They married in Vojvodina.
Bobby Despotovski was born in Perth in 1971 but went back to Pancevo as a baby, which despite being in Serbia has a very large Macedonian minority who moved there after World War II.
So the question is how did a guy born in Australia to a Macedonian father, a mother of Russian or Ukrainian ancestry, without a drop of Serbian blood and who moved to a part of Serbia, Vojvodina, which is ethnically mixed with a very large Hungarian population, ethnic Russians, Romanians, as well as Serbs end up embracing a Serb nationalist identity?
Bobby Despotovski (convert to ultra-Serb nationalism)...
An Aussie footballer, Perth Glory's Despotovski enraged fans of Melbourne Knights - formerly Melbourne Croatia - in 2001 by mimicking the three-finger salute Serb soldiers gave after brutalising Croats during the Yugoslav civil war. Despotovski was attacked as he ran for the team bus.
'At the end of the day it was politics,' he said. 'Serbs against Croats.'
Yes, but Bobby you're not Serb ! - see link 

Perhaps, Naum Panovski should be asking why someone in "diverse" and "cosmopolitan" Vojvodina acted in such a manner rather than venting his spleen on the American-Macedonian diaspora and by extension Australia?

PANOVSKI'S ILLUSION - shattered by the ugly reality of Kacavenda.
Belgrade Cafe intellectuals such as Naum Panovski reveal their naivety or their own bias in defending a system, Tito's Yugoslavia, which had to use secret police informers such as pedophile priest Vasilije Kacavenda as well as criminals, bank robbers and gangsters such as Arkan as hitmen in the 1970s.
It tells you of a polticial system that was morally bankrupt and based on an illusion, funded in part with Western cash because of the Cold War.
This is the "utopia" that Panovski longs for and when the so called "Utopia" collapsed, he moved to the West...to greener pastures but now re-packages himself as a kind of "dissident" or "anti-nationalist" but ironically ends up as a "Yugoslav nationalist."
A lot of these guys and gals do...because it's their "identity" which they have chosen but no one else is permitted to determine their own identity. It has to be determined for them by the likes of Panovski, which is the behaviour of the authoritarian, the dictator.
But they can't see that, only the faults of others. But their own illusions or intellectual quicksand have now been revealed.
It's also disingenous and intellectually lazy to equate "Macedonian assertiveness" on par with say Serb ultra-nationalism of Slobodan Milosevic. No doubt he doesn't want to feel excluded from the Belgrade cafe intellectual millieu. If people want to identify as Macedonians that is their right to do so.
Funny there is no mention of Panovski in any Amnesty International documents in the 1980s, unless I've missed something.


It's a pose that these guys and gals from the Balkans strike in order to impress their Western counterparts... but when you examine their intellectual foundations it's kind of mush that doesn't hold upto any kind of scrutiny....people claiming to be "anti-nationalist" but in their doing so they end up being "nationalist" and longing for a system that was morally bankrupt.

George "Gjorgija" Atanasoski - American Macedonian businessman and an influential member of the diaspora. George's company sells components to NASA.
Naum Panovski or that matter a Member of the City of Skopje elite: Degree from Belgrade University.
Has the 'Elite' invented anything or involved in hi-tech? No. Despite their 'Belgrade cafe cool' have they invented say a mobile phone? No. A more efficient coffee machine so they can sit in the cafe and enjoy a hot brew? No. Ahaa..!
But somehow, according to Panovski, the diaspora is primitive...Panovski's assertions are those of a man suffering from an inferiority complex who needs to bellitle others to make himself feel superior.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014


SKY PILOT - the Bulgarian Orthodox Priest ordered to spy on Australia's rocket / missile program during the 1960s in the "heat" of the Cold War

SKY PILOT - Reverend Rocket
by Sasha Uzunov

De-classified Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) files from the the mid 1960s reveal that a Bulgarian Orthodox Priest, an intelligence operative for the Bulgarian communist government, was ordered to spy upon Australia's rocket and missile program in at Woomera, in the South Australian desert as well as the local Macedonian community.

Father Kliment Cvetkov Dimitrov, an ethnic Macedonian by birth (from the western Macedonian town of Tetovo), was removed as parish priest from the controversial Bulgarian-Macedonian Orthodox Church in Melbourne, Australia because of personal reasons... and in which his secret role came to the attention of ASIO.


In 1950, a group of Macedonian migrants, largely from Aegean Macedonia, who needed a church to worship in, fell under the sway of a cunning character called Bishop Andrey Velichky, head of the Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church of America, Canada, and Australia. With his blessing a "Macedono-Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church" [referred to by ASIO as the Macedonian (self-independent) Orthodox Church] in Melbourne, Australia, was consecrated.

Bishop Velichky had remained in exile in the United States and was independent of Communist Bulgaria until 1963, when he patched up his difference with the Sofia regime and brought his Churches under direct Bulgarian control.

Photo copyright CORBIS.

In 1960, a Macedonian Orthodox Church, St George, was established in Fitzroy and was in communion with the Macedonian Orthodox Church, headquartered in Skopje, the Socialist Republic of Macedonia, then within the Communist Federal Yugoslavia. The Macedonian Orthodox Church declared its independence in 1967 from the Serbian Church, which had confiscated the title to the Macedonian Church (Archbishopric of Ohrid) after it was abolished by the Ottoman Turkish occupation in the late 18th century.

On 8 September 1991, Macedonia declared its independence from Yugoslavia.

The Macedono-Bulgarian Church in Australia then became a platform for Bulgarian intelligence operations during the 1960s and onwards, as there was a minuscule Bulgarian diplomatic presence in Australia at the time.

In 1986 a Victorian Supreme Court decision confirmed Bulgarian "ownership"of the Church in Melbourne. The original founders, the Macedonians, had been duped by Bishop Andrey Velichky back in 1950.

THE ASIO REPORT - dated May 1967 - source: National Archives of Australia.

Friday, August 29, 2014


BLAGOJE SAMBEVSKI - A year before death banned from entering Australia

by Sasha Uzunov

In 1974 a Macedonian anti-Communist dissident Blagoja Sambevski, an opponent of Tito's Yugoslavia and Secretary of the emigre organisation DOOM (Movement for the Liberation and Unification of Macedonia), was found dead at the hotel he was working at as a night porter in Munich, West Germany. A year before his death he had been rejected by Australia's security services from entering the country on a tourist visa to visit a relative by marriage.

Sambevski had been granted political asylum in Germany.

previous stories - link
                         -  link 

Australian Immigration file - marked secret - in the National Archives ofAustralia - www.naa.gov.au


It is believed pressure from Yugoslavia on the Australian government led to denial of visa...

A Commonwealth Police Force (the forerunner of the Australian Federal Police) report, reveals that Blagoje Sambevski had applied for a visa to visit Melbourne, Australia.

The Commonwealth Police took notice of Sambevski in 1972 when he was elected Vice-President of the OKM - Osloboditelen Komitet Na Makedonija - Committe for the Liberation of Macedonia.

At a World Congress of Macedonian nationalists held in April 1972 in Munich, a split occured within OKM, a right wing became DOOM or DOM (Dvizenje za Osloboduvanje i Obedinuvanje na Makedonija) of which Sambevski had become Vice-President.

A left wing made up of Macedonian activists who had lived in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe took over OKM and set up headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.

DOOM, according to the Commonwealth Police, had a falling out with a Croatian nationalist group which was willing to allegedly sacrifice Macedonia to communist Bulgaria [under Soviet control] for supporting Croatian independence....

DOOM in Australia saw itself as countering pro-Yugoslav propaganda.

Sambevski planned to visit his brother in law, Ivan Civcic, a Croat. Sambevski's wife, Zora Dolic, was Croatian.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Serbian Orthodox Bishop Kacavenda, caught in a sex scandal, and blackmailed by the then Yugoslav Communist intelligence service, UDBa, to spy on fellow priests during the 1970s and 80s. The use of religion as a covert manner for espionage in the Balkans is one of the oldest tricks in the book.

Macedonia's "reward" for humanitarian assistance -

by Sasha Uzunov

It is one of the oldest tricks in the book, especially in the Balkans, the use of religion by the state to conduct covert intelligence operations.

The Serbian State funds the Serbian Orthodox Church, which is waging a campaign against the Macedonian Orthodox Church by sponsoring a "rebel" Bishop John (Jovan) - real name is Zoran Vraniskovski... but it's way of destabilising Macedonia by hauling it to various human rights commissions over "free of worship" etc. 

The Serbian Orthodox Church has gone after Macedonia's Orthodox Primate, Archbishop Stefan. see link 

The Serbian, Greek and Bulgarian Orthodox Churches refuse to recognise the existence of a Macedonian Orthodox Church.

Officially the Republic of Serbia recognises Macedonia and a Macedonian nationality but still wants to keep its hand in the diplomatic poker game over Macedonia, especially with Bulgarian influence growing and so uses religion as a way of blackmailing Macedonia.

Recently, Serbia's former President Boris Tadic said that he regretted in not officially apologising for Serbia's historical injustices committed against Macedonia but would not elaborate. see link

Using a religious dispute is deliberately aimed at Macedonia's Cafe intellectual elite, many who are not interested in religion and so can't see the real danger the "church dispute" poses to Macedonia. The real issue is not about religion but about power.

It's very very clever and shameful, when you consider Macedonia, a tiny impoverished nation, gave humanitarian aid to Serbia when it was hit by floods. see link:

In the past the Yugoslav communists blackmailed a Serb Bishop Kacavenda, a pedophile, into spying for UDBa, the intelligence service, during the 1970s and 80s.

see link: 
see link

It's a bad public relations exercise for the Serb nationalist cause: on the one hand it plays the victim card over Kosovo but is now waging an aggressive campaign, in the guise of religion, against Macedonia.

It's not the behaviour of a "victim" but a "predator.

1971 BRATSVO I EDINSTVO (Brotherhood and Unity) ? Both Serb clergy and secularists reflect the same view

1971 Australian Foreign Affairs document - Australian Ambassador to SFR Yugoslavia pays a visit to SR Macedonia.

Ambassador R.H. Robertson: "En route to Skopje we visited the Serbian Orthodox monastery at Studenica and had some conversation with the Deputy Abbott (Igumen). I had the opportuntity of asking...a casual question about the Macedonian Orthodox Patriachate: He looked extremely dour and replied the "Patriachate is a political creation upon which I shall not comment." The reply reflected, on the church level, the tendency of many Serbians still to claim that the present [Socialist] Republic of Macedonia was in fact more accurately described under its pre-war title "South Serbia."
TEAM UZUNOV note: we are not aware of the Serbian clergy being arrested by UDBa for making those disparaging remarks. And we are surprised that Canadian-Serb film maker Boris Malagurski doesn't mention this chauvinism in his conspiracy laden film, The Weight of Chains."

source: National Archives of Australia - www.naa.gov.au 

The bias against the Macedonian Church was recored by a US Diplomatic cable, published on wiikleaks:

2007 US Diplomatic report (wikileaks - Julian Assange)


Serbian Orthodox Church removes one of its own Bishops for being sympathetic to Macedonian Church's claim to autocephaly...

With Amfilohije's appointment, the Holy Synod (the the SOC
governing body) removed Pavle's previous assistant, Metropolitan
Jovan of Zagreb, Ljubljana, and Italy, replacing the oldest bishop
with the longest-serving. The SOC press release said the choice of
Amfilohije was not a hint about the choice of the next Patriarch.

The press release did not explain the decision to replace Jovan.
Professor of religion and SOC insider Mirko Djordjevic told us the
Synod probably chose to remove Jovan because the SOC perceived as too sympathetic toward the Macedonian Orthodox Church's claims for
autocephaly. Makojevic told DCM the change was "routine."


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Surviving snow storm in Afghanistan

Scott Taylor filming during the severe snowstorm in the Salang Tunnel pass. In the forefront is one of our guides with Sasha Uzunov's scarf wrapped around his face to protect himself from the biting cold

Surviving a snow storm in northern Afghanistan, of all places
by Sasha Uzunov
copyright 2014.
Everything I had learnt during my time as an Australian soldier—the self discipline, the planning ahead—I threw out the window quite stupidly during a recent trip before Christmas as a civilian film maker to Afghanistan. It could have easily have cost my life, but luck was on my side this time.
Sasha Uzunov (kneeling) as a cameraman taking directions from Canadian journalist Scott Taylor (wearing Afghan cap) in Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan.
The danger did not come from a roadside bomb or an attack by the Taliban insurgents but from being caught in a sudden severe snow storm, high up in a famous mountain pass in the north of the country, known as the Salang Tunnel, in the Hindu Kush mountain region.

I was on my third trip to Afghanistan in early December 2013 after visiting the country in 2007 and 2008. My two companions were well known Canadian journalists Scott Taylor and David Pugliese. We had pooled our resources to make a documentary film, Afghanistan: Outside the Wire, in 2010 and this recent trip was to complete a sequel to that documentary, which will be screened this year on Canadian television.
Afghanistan Outside the Wire: End Game - Documentary film
Before leaving Melbourne, Australia for this latest adventure, I made sure I packed some winter clothing. In my suitcase was a ski jacket and pants, boots, gloves, thermal underwear and layers of warm clothing plus a compass.
Our rendezvous point was Dubai airport, in the United Arab Emirates, the great tourist hub. The plan was the three of us to catch the same flight to Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, from Dubai. That went without a hitch. 
Kabul, the capital, became our base for a number of trips we had planned: a visit to the north of the country and the south,the dangerous Kandahar province, the heartland of the Taliban insurgents, who in 2001 as a response to the 9-11 terrorists attack on New York, had been driven from power by the invading United States Army and its allies, including Australia, Canada and Britain. The Taliban had been giving sanctuary to the 9-11 attack masterminds, Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda
Our plan, like our previous tours of duty, included growing beards and dressing up as local Afghans in order to blend in with our environment and be less prone to attack or kidnapping.Two weeks before our arrival, some foreign aid workers had been killed by the Taliban.
Kabul in December 2013, more so from my previous trips in 2007 and 2008, resembled an armed camp and the tension was so thick in the air, with local Afghan police patroling every major street corner and intersection and Western troops nowhere to be seen. This was the consequence of the great withdrawal by the US and the handing over of security to the Afghans themselves. Would Afghanistan stand on its own or fall again to the Taliban?
Even taking photographs was strongly discouraged in the heightened paranoia of the Western withdrawal. One Afghan policeman spotted my video camera in the car we were driving in.
He forced me out of the car at gunpoint and handed me over to a US Army Military Policeman, a Sergeant, who had come out of nowhere and who then made me erase the video footage I had taken. Otherwise my camera would have been confiscated. So I had no choice but to comply.
Every major street corner or round-about had a police check point with a sign in both Dari, the Afghan variant of Persian, and English with the interesting "Ring of Steel." I don't know if that was reassuring or not… In 2007, a suicide bomber had blown up a bus containing police recruits. We were abut 800 metres away and felt the house we were staying in shake and the horrible smell of explosives and flesh. This time around, a suicide bomber had attacked Kabul Airport but we were fortunately 5 kilometres away in another part of town… They say you never know when your number comes up. So far our luck held.
Scott Taylor and David Pugliese are old hands who have travelled to many hot spots around the the world and are superstar war reporters in their own country. It is important to have travelling companions who know their way around hostile environments.
Taylor is also a former Canadian soldier who served in Germany in the early 1980s and had passed the gruelling French Commando test. As a civilian war reporter had been taken hostage by insurgents in Iraq in 2004 and tortured. Luckily, he was released but came within an inch of being murdered. I was supposed to have travelled with him but lack of funds kept me in Australia. In 2005 we both went to Iraq. Pugliese, the elder statesman of Canadian defence reporting, was invaluable for his acumen, wise counsel and caution. 
Sasha Uzunov as an Australian soldier on peacekeeping duties in East Timor, 2001.
The Australian Army has some of the best NCOs (Non-Commisioned Officers - i.e. Corporals, Sergeants etc) in the world. The lessons of self-discipline, planning, anticipating and being prepared for the worst, are constantly hammered into young soldiers. It is only in hindsight that you realise that these lessons are also applicable in other areas of your life. I am grateful for those lessons even though at the time I disagreed with them!…In particular navigation, not my strong point--Having been lost on a few occasions out in the bush on exercise as an Aussie digger (soldier)! But it is funny when fear and survival instincts kick in.. Or in my case, you remember your old Corporal screaming at you, and years later as a civilian when you enter a spot of bother you have this ringing in your ears…or a voice comes out of nowhere, your corporal guiding you..in spirit….hahahaha !
In 2003 Canadian journalist Scott taylor and I attempted to sneak across the Turkish border into Iraq at the outbreak of war.  Our cover was to act as two locals or as two naive western tourists who got lost, if we were ever detained by the Turkish border para-military police, the Gendarme. 
The scheme involved in finding two pushbikes from the local Kurdish people… To do so, we had to wonder the streets of the local border town of Silopi. We located the two bikes but then got dragged into a Kurdish wedding dance that was taking place on the street. Finally, extracting ourselves from the dance we headed for the Iraq border.
We managed to use 'dead ground' and folds in the terrain to slip past the Turkish observation posts without being observed, the way I had been trained in the Australian Army.
It was getting dark and when we reached the border and to our horror we had stumbled upon an entrance of a minefield… (the mysterious corporal's voice reappeared to me---"retrace your steps)…we got out of their in one piece and then headed back to our original starting point… Only one problem, it was now pitch black, no moon, to illuminate the way home (having been lost out the back of Holsworthy Barracks in Sydney's south-west years ago on a night navigation exercise the mysterious corporal's voice now appeared; "for f**k sake Private Uzunov use a reference point, a feature. Count your steps or paces).
Before we left for the border during daylight I had subconsciously memorised the features or reference points. I remembered a mosque and its tall minaret, which now in the darkness had acted as a kind of beacon..We would head towards the minaret and its light. It got us back onto a major road we had travelled earlier in the afternoon.
Scott Taylor at the start of the Salang Tunnel on the way up north. On the return a severe and sudden snow storm hit plunging temperates down to -20 degrees celsius.

Now it was December 2013 and a new adventure beckoned: Taylor, Pugliese and I would sit down and plan our forays outside Kabul. We would go over the route we would take, the stories and interviews we wanted to cover. We would check our equipment: the cameras, microphones, batteries and so on. Anticipating that things can and always go wrong, I brought with me from Australia extra microphones and cameras. The microphones came in handy when the main one stopped working!
Afghanistan is a multi-ethnic country but 99% Islamic. It is made up of Pushtuns in the south of the country, primarily in Kandhar Province and across the border in Pakistan. Australians might remember Pakistan cricket legend Imran Khan, who is a Pushtun. In the north and centre of Afghanistan are Tajiks, who speak Persian and a closely related to Iranians, and Uzbeks, who are similar to Turks, and who also live in the neighbouring country of Uzbekistan, north of Afghanistan. Then there are the Hazara, descendants of the Mongols.
Our objective was to get to the north and the south to gauge the feeling after the West ended its military mission--its decade long war against the Taliban--and pulled out of the country by 2014. To get to the north we had to cross by car through some rugged mountain ranges, the Hindu Kush, and the Salang Tunnel.
The tunnel, which was the highest road tunnel in the world until 1973, is the major north-south connection in Afghanistan. It reaches an altitude of about 3,400 metres (11,200 ft) and is 2.6 kilometres (1.6 mi) long. Before the tunnel was completed by the Soviet advisors in 1964, it was almost impossible to get through in the northern winter months (December to February) to the northern regions. We had travelled through the Salang Tunnel pass by car in 2007 and 2008 without any problems but that was in the northern spring and summer months in Afghanistan (May to August). 
We had never attempted the journey in winter. Driving by car was our best option, as Taylor,Pugliese and I could stop along the way and photograph or film. We managed to find a local driver and his younger brother as guides. They would take us from Kabul to the northern cities of Mazar e Sharif and Shebarghan, about 6 to 8 hours travel time. However, this is where our trouble would later emanate from. Quite stupidly I assumed everything would go like clockwork and the caution and self-discipline from my previous training as an Australian soldier who had served in East Timor; and as a civilian photo-journalist in Iraq and the previous Afghan trips was largely forgotten.
David Pugliese (left) and Scott Taylor (right) - in Kabul making plans for the trip up north of Afghanistan.
Before leaving Kabul we checked the weather prognosis and discovered there would be little or no snow in the Salang Tunnel. I took a winter coat, left behind my gloves, water proof ski pants and jacket and sturdy boots. I forgot what I had been taught and that is always plan that the worst will happen. I had lived in Europe for over year in 2002-03 and experienced a northern winter and snow, as well as the snowfields back in Australia. 
We stocked up on water but no food, figuring there would be plenty of roadside food stands in the towns along the highway. We left Kabul early on the morning of Friday 6 December and got through the tunnel without a hitch; along the way stopping for lunch of kebabs in a fly infested restaurant. But the kebabs did sure taste good and washed down with soft drinks or local tea. No alcohol such as a cold beer available as it is a strictly Islamic country officially, though if you know the right people you can buy booze on the black market.
Early morning on Sunday 8 December the return trip to Kabul via Salang Tunnel commenced. All was well for the first hour or so, until we reached the tunnel entrance. The traffic in front had ground to halt. So did our car. All three of us got out of the car to do investigate the gridlock. The side of the mountains had been caked in thick snow but the actual road had a light coat that had turned to mush. The cars in front had stopped so that the drivers could put snow chains on their tyres. But like with anything in Afghanistan it became chaotic. As I was filming both Scott Taylor and David Pugliese a severe snow storm came out of nowhere. The temperature just plunged about 10 or so degrees within seconds. Visibility was almost non-existent. Only wearing a winter coat over light clothes I felt the immense cold and my camera lens began to freeze up. So I jumped in the car for a moment or two. Whilst in the car, our driver also jumped in and asked for my coat to wear whilst he and his younger brother put the chains on the tyres.
For some inexplicable reason he turned my coat inside out; so that the waterproofed outer was on the inside and the soft non-waterproofed inner was outside. Within seconds my coat had become waterlogged. I now had nothing warm to wear so had no choice but to stay in the car and film through the windows. I tried to go outside but the fierce cold just enveloped me. The younger brother of the driver then asked for my scarf to cover his head so that he could help his older brother with the tyre chains.
Taylor and Pugliese, as Canadians were used to the cold, but it got too much for them. So they eventually jumped in the car after an hour or so outside. Then the bad news came. The driver told us that his chains were too small for his car tyres; they where the wrong size. At the moment I thought back to some of the material I had read about the Salang Tunnel; the avalanches in 2002, 2009 and 2010 that had left hundreds of people trapped in their cars for days and had frozen too death.
Even though there was no avalanche the possibility of being trapped for days in the pass without any warm weather gear did not sound encouraging. We had a few bottles of water and half-a-packet of potato chips for five people. If we had to abandoned the car and walk the many kilometres to safety not all of would all be able to make it. Even if we stayed in the car, the fuel would eventually run out and the heating would cease. 
It became crunch time. For a moment, a flicker, I had come to the conclusion, this really sinking feeling, that we would not make it out alive. That my number had come up. But as soon as I resigned myself to my fate, that is accepting that I would not live, an inner voice said we would survive.
Fortunately for us, a trader had driven up offering tyre chains of varying sizes for sale. Our driver began haggling with the trader, who then demanded a large sum of money. A heated argument broke out. Then Scott Taylor, David Pugliese and I came to the realisation that many Afghans carry weapons and may not hesitate to use them if a heated discussion turned nasty. Taylor, quick thinking as always, devised a plan, if the trader had come to our car to take the keys away in order to extort payment, I was to grab the keys and hold onto them with dear life whilst Taylor would fight with the guy. 
Mercifully, after a an hour or two the trader sensing he was losing business by arguing and ignoring other "potential clients" drove off. We finally breathed a collective sign of relief until every 20 minutes or so, our driver would stop the car and have to readjust the chains as they kept loosening. This continued for many hours even inside the Salang Tunnel. So the fear was of being trapped inside the tunnel and of dying of asphyxiation from all the carbon monoxide fumes. Eventually after an 11 hour ordeal we where on the road again and reached Kabul in one piece, and much wiser.
In sharp contrast, a week later we flew down to Kandahar province in Afghanistan's south with its humidity and semi-arid environment and danger of a different sort, the Taliban insurgents and roadside bombs.
Afghanistan (North & South): a country of contrasts. In the North we (Canadian journalists Scott Taylor & David Pugliese and myself) were in the Salang Tunnel when a snow storm (-20 degrees celcius) struck. Down south in Kandahar city and Kandahar province the terrain is dry and dusty and the weather warm. In Kandahar, because of the security concerns we were escorted by Afghan National Police (ANP) in the city and outside the wire in the countryside, Argandab district. Photos by Sasha Uzunov (video stills/freeze frames).

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

AUSTRALIAN MP - a Yugoslav spy?

Was Lewis "Bata" Kent  (1925-2014) - an Australian Labor Federal Member of Parliament an intelligence operative for Communist Yugoslavia?

by Sasha Uzunov

LEWIS "BATA" KENT - Federal MP for Hotham (1980-90)

Team Uzunov exclusive - after a 2 year wait our application for access to Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) documents is finally processed

EXPLOSIVE: ASIO files reveal a former Australian Federal MP, before entering parliament, wanted in 1964 to bomb Croat activists in Australia...

In a 1982 ASIO report on Federal MP, Lewis Kent, his "activities" were listed:

7-1-1964: "Kent suggested that they set fire to the home of Srecko Rover [controversial Croat leader in Melbourne, Australia] and that other known fascists would be given attention (either by fire, bombing or by kidnapping)

on 13-2-1964 Kent said: "we will have to burn ROVER's home, then the church, everything."
In 1964 Kent had dinner with the Yugoslav Consul General, Dejan Popovic, on a visit to Melbourne.

In the same year Popovic telephoned Kent twice during a visit to Melbourne and visited his home.

In 1976 Kent invited Dr Georgi Trajkovski, Yugoslav Consul General in Melbourne and believed to be the Croatian Six set up mastermind, to dinner.

Kent was chairman of the controversial Australian Yugoslav Welfare Society, set up by Trajkovski, and which was accused of spying upon members of the Croat, Macedonian communities in Melbourne.

source: ASIO file available in the National Archives of Australia.www.naa.gov.au

AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL POLICE (formerly Commonwealth Police)

You have to shake your head in amazement at Australian law enforcement and counter intelligence "naivety." Australian Federal Police Agent, DetectiveSenior Sergeant Arnold 'stumbled upon the fact' that an translator used to examine seized Croat documents was also close toYugoslav diplomats.

In fact Detective Snr Sergeant Arnold spoke to the man at a Yugoslav consulate cocktail reception for Aco Petrovic, from the Serbian Matica, visiting Australia in November 1983.

This is an AFP report handed to ASIO and inside Lewis Kent's ASIO file.www.naa.gov.au

In another report from 1983, Kent got in contact with Anton Buneta, identified as a Yugoslav intelligence officer by ASIO.

Money shot quote:
PLO TELLS YUGOSLAVIA - we'll choose our friends, Left wing Croats !

LEFT ON LEFT & "Radical Croat Chic" - In the 1980s a splinter group, HDP, from the mainstream Croatian nationalist movement emerged, moving to the left and aligning itself with "progressive forces" such as the Australian Trotskist group, the Socialist Workers Party... but also agitating for Croatian independence from Socialist Yugoslavia.

In the ASIO file of ex Federal MP Lewis "Bata" Kent, Kent, a hardcore leftist himself and supporter of Tito's Yugoislavia, was determined to destroy this group...HDP and its links with the Australian Left.

It also undermines the stereotype of all "Croatian nationalists" being labelled as right wing Ustashas, as was being pushed by Socialist Yugoslavia at the time.

Radical Croat Chic & George Seitz

In 1982, the HDP organised a dinner-dance in Melbourne, Australia and invited a representative from the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), Anton Shaer, and the Irish Republican Movement, Barry Hughes to give a talk. Also present was the ALP MP for the state seat of Keilor, Australian-Croat, George Seitz.

The event was reported in the local Croatian newspaper, Hrvatski Tjednik and a copy sent to PLO Heaquarters in Damascus, Syria. On finding out, Yugoslavia, a long time supporter of the PLO, protested.

The money shot quote: "PLO will choose its friends."

ASIO took this development very seriously...the Croats playing the "leftist card."

UPDATE - TEAM UZUNOV EXCLUSIVE - 1986 declassified ASIO document lodged with the National Archives of Australia - www.naa.gov.au

OUTRAGEOUS - The domestic Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) slams Australian Federal Police (AFP) for doing investigative work for Yugoslav Intelligence (YIS or UDBa/SDB) by passing on addresses to Yugoslav consulate staff in Melbourne. That man Georgi Trajkovski is at it again... see link for background story

1986 ASIO report: quote: "We now have the extraordinary situation of the AFP doing owner-occupier checks for YIS [Yugoslav Intelligence Service, UDBa/SDB] officers enabling them to carry out intelligence gathering interviews in Aust. [Australia]."